No, you won't get shot if you go there. Really. Probably not. Our sister city to the east has long gotten a bad rap for a higher-than-average crime rate, which tends to dominate Bay Area-wide news coverage of the place, but it is, in case you didn't know, a rapidly changing city that many of your cool friends already call home. It has always been a diverse place, both racially and economically, with some extremely wealthy people up in the hills and some extremely poor people down below and nearer the freeways. And right now we'd like to offer some tips for taking a jaunt to Oakland without being a total asshole about it.
There Is More to Do in Oakland Than Go to the Fox.
We believe that, for most of you, Oakland is just someplace you have to tolerate when M83 or Vampire Weekend comes to town for a show at the Fox. The Fox is beautiful, for starters, and a superior music venue to anything we have in San Francisco (aside from the commute requirement). But there is much more over there to check out, including unique food offerings that do, in fact, rival things you can find without leaving S.F. For example: Excellent, underrated eats at Haven (owned by Coi's Daniel Patterson) in Jack London Square; the meat-centric new Tribune Tavern; Ramen Shop in Rockridge; complex and interesting Spanish fare at Duende, across from the Fox; and very fine cocktails at The New Easy. There's also the bustling Art Murmur/First Fridays each month, not to mention a whole lot of small music events and happenings that are probably cooler than you think. So the next time someone mentions they're headed to Oakland, try to refrain from saying, "Why?" or "Oh, you going to the Fox?"
Do Not Turn Up Your Nose at the Mention of the Place, or the Possibility of Someone Moving There
This is really the height of S.F. snobbery, and it's pissing Oakland off. Seriously. Your aversion to the place borders on racism, or at best, classism, and it is in fact a far more interesting and complex city than most of us give it credit for. Also, it's not even that cheap to live there anymore, and it has some neighborhoods that are far nicer (and with better schools) than the one you probably live in, so just shut up already.
BART Is Your Friend
We do, in fact, have much to be grateful for in S.F. And one can lead a perfectly marvelous life here for weeks on end without leaving its confines. But what kind of life is that? A sheltered one, certainly. Did you know that you can get from the Mission to Oakland in about half the time it takes to get from the Mission to the Outer Sunset? It's true. It's easier than getting to the Marina from just about anywhere. That BART trip that you find so daunting? It takes about 20 minutes. 15 from the Embarcadero to the heart of downtown Oakland. Quit your whining.
Do Not Make Jokes About Getting Shot
This is a big one. Yes, more shootings happen over there. This is a statistical truth. However much of that violence, just the like the violence we have in the Mission and the Bayview, is people shooting their own. Gang-on-gang, or whathaveyou. Criminals are not rolling through Jack London Square, or Uptown, or Rockridge, pointing their weapons at the gentrifiers, of which we assume you are one, or at least you know one. There was that unfortunate shooting at First Fridays in February, but that is more the exception than the rule. And bringing that up among your Oakland friends, or among anyone, every time the prospect of going to Oakland comes up just makes you sound like a ninny and a jerk.